As the saying goes, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe the Galveston Wharves is well positioned to be a strong contender for millions of dollars in recently announced federal infrastructure funding, and I’ll tell you why.
We’re prepared to take advantage of this opportunity because we have an experienced grants staff that can produce strong applications for projects already thoroughly researched and prioritized in our 20-Year Strategic Master Plan.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress in early November includes billions of dollars in funding for ports. Port-specific programs totaling $5.225 billion include the $2.25 billion Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP). The act also includes $27.1 billion in port-eligible programs for infrastructure and other improvements over the next five years.
This is the boost our self-sustaining port needs to move forward with critical capital improvement and maintenance projects that support our mission: To benefit the Galveston community with jobs, tax revenues and economic growth.
While a city entity, the port receives no property tax revenue. We reinvest port revenues and seek federal, state and regional grants to fund critical projects.
PREPARED FOR THE OPPORTUNITY
Not long after joining the Galveston Wharves as port director and CEO in 2018, I saw two major opportunities to make lasting improvements. First, the port prepared the master plan based on a comprehensive analysis by maritime industry experts and public input. Second, the port ramped up its grant application efforts to help fund millions of dollars in improvements prioritized in that master plan.
Now, three years later, those efforts are paying off. The board and staff use the master plan to prioritize business strategies and capital improvement projects throughout our 840-acre port. Examples include the West Port Cargo Complex, the internal roadway and the third cruise terminal at Pier 10.
The master plan also is the essential foundation for our grants program. The extensively researched, detailed document identifies potential grant sources and provides comprehensive data to strengthen our grant applications with solid cost-benefit data. It also helps prioritize the order in which we seek funding for projects.
GRANT FUNDING SUCCESS IN 2021
This year, our grants program staff, led by Laura Camcioglu and Ellie Byrom, has submitted more than 12 federal, state and regional grant applications. Through the teamwork of port staff, support of our regional partners, and buy-in from our elected officials, the port exceeded its 2021 goal by 200 percent. Current priorities are infrastructure improvements at Pier 10 and the West Port Cargo Complex; Pelican Island Bridge construction; and environmental projects, including shore power for ships and electric car charging stations.
Grants typically fund 60-90 percent of a project’s cost with the balance coming from the port. To date this year the following projects have been awarded:
- Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) – $2.6 million grant for port interior roadway between 20th and 29th streets
- TxDOT – $10 million grant to fund Pelican Island Bridge improvements (a joint application from the port, TxDOT and Port Houston)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – $10.5 million for West Port slip fill to expand the cargo area
- FEMA – $1.2 million to enhance port security
- Texas Mutual – $1,500 for safety equipment
We have pending grant applications totaling millions of dollars and will announce new awards as we receive them. Wish us luck!